IBM-Led Storage Coalition Starts Aperi Open-Source Project

The group of 10 data storage vendors initiates a project on the Eclipse Foundation Web site to build a new API for developing storage management software.

An IBM-led group of 10 data storage vendors initiated an open-source project on the Eclipse Foundation community Web site June 28 to build a new API for developing software that manages storage devices and the networks in which they reside.

The group, Aperi (from the Latin, meaning "to open"), was founded in the fall of 2005 and aims to establish this new API as an industry standard and have it accepted by the SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association), the standards organization for the data storage business.

Aperi includes Brocade Communication Systems, Cisco Systems, CA, Emulex, LSI Logic, Fujitsu, IBM, McData and Network Appliance. Novell joined the consortium June 28.

The group will build its API using the open-source Eclipse software development environment and wants to include it in the specification.

Eclipse originally was a project hatched inside IBM as a response to Sun Microsystems (thus, the name "Eclipse") and its open-source NetBeans development tools back in 2000, and its project team is still largely populated by current IBM employees in the open-source community.

With 135 member companies, is an influential open-source community, comprising major technology vendors, startups, universities, research institutions and individuals. Tens of millions of its software tool kits have been downloaded and more than 1,000 third-party plug-ins have been built using them.

The Aperi platform for managing all brands of storage systems will be available free of charge.

"We believe that the open-source approach to building this standard platform will accelerate its development, and that keeping the whole process transparent and public will lead to higher-quality results in a shorter period of time," IBM Vice President of Software Standards Karla Norsworthy, in Armonk, N.Y., told eWEEK.

Two factions agree, yet disagree

Aperi does not include all the leading data storage vendors. Five others—EMC, HP, Hitachi Data Systems, Symantec and Sun—started their own as-yet-nameless coalition June 22 at Storage World in Long Beach, Calif.

EMC, the worlds largest data storage vendor, based in Hopkinton, Mass., was not invited to join Aperi; Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif., had been a member originally but withdrew on June 21.

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The five companies, collectively representing more than half the worldwide market share for enterprise storage management software, are working together to ensure that the SNIAs SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification) becomes a common, widely used industry standard—but not necessarily using the Eclipse open-source framework to build the API.

Both factions in this intra-industry squabble agree that continuing to support the 3-year-old SMI-S spec is the correct path. However, there is disagreement about how to implement what software developers ultimately will use to build this new software.

While SMI-S is the open-standard specification that SNIA members support and drive, Aperi will be the open-source implementation of that standard. By providing a tested implementation of SMI-S, which standardizes storage management software for storage hardware interfaces, Aperi aims to drive greater industry support and wider adoption of SMI-S, an IBM spokesperson said.

Next Page: Will Aperi software run only on Tivoli?

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...